Troubleshooting: USB Device Not Recognized

By · Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011

Troubleshooting: USB Device Not RecognizedWhile USB drives are designed to be rugged, durable, and dependable by design, there are times where you wonder if that is truly the case. A common problem floating around on USB drives and other USB devices is when your computer displays the message “USB Device Not Recognized”. This popup message means that your computer is no longer recognizing the USB device and cannot access it.

Following this message, many users experience curiosity, wonder, anger or even rage at their computer. Many get frustrated and spend hours looking for a solution to their problem. Well if you are currently experiencing this problem, we have compiled a list of possible causes for the “USB Device Not Recognized” message and possible solutions for each.

Cause #1: Outdated Device Driver
All computer devices have drivers. They are a vital and necessary component to make sure each device interacts and works accordingly with the computer. One possible cause may be that your device drivers are out of date and no longer recognized by your computer.

Solution: You need to manually update your device drivers. To do this start by opening up your start menu, hit the Run icon, and type in devmgmt.msc. From here, look down the list until you see Universal Series Bus Controllers. You need to Right click and select update driver software. You can also look on the manufactures website as many have a drivers download section.

Cause #2: USB Device shares the same drive letter as another device already plugged in
This is a problem because Windows only recognizes up to 26 devices and if two devices share the same letter, only 1 will be recognized.

Solution: You need to manually change the drive letter for your USB device. To do this open your start menu, hit Run, then type in diskmgmt.msc. Locate your device and right click. Select “Change Drive Letter and Paths” and select a drive letter currently not in use. Hit OK when finished.

Cause #3: All USB devices suddenly stop working
If all of your USB devices plugged into your motherboard stop working, then there is a fairly good chance that your motherboard is to blame. Modern motherboards still draw a little power even when turned off and you need to completely turn it off in order for it to reset.

Solution: Completely unplug your computer from its power source. Simply shut down your computer and wait for it to power itself down. Then reach around the back and unplug the power cord. Wait about 10 seconds and then plug the power back into the power supply. Turn your computer back on.

Cause #4: Damaged USB Port
A common cause for the “USB Device Not Recognized” popup could be from a damaged or malfunctioning USB port.

Solution: Simply connect your USB device to another USB port on the computer. If this solution does not work, try the other solutions on this list.

Cause #5: Malware infected USB drive
Malware is a vicious type of computer software that remains virtually undetected until it’s too late. This sometimes even affects USB drives and corrupts them.

Solution: Install antivirus software onto your USB flash drive and scan for the malware. If malware is detected remove it from the USB drive. It is also probably a good idea to then scan your computer for other viruses or malware as a common medium for computer viruses has become USB flash drives.

Cause #6: Defective USB Device
Not all USB devices are created equal. Many devices are made with a varying degree of quality parts and lower end devices tend to fail quite a bit more than higher quality devices. Although sometimes the device may fail, it does not mean you cannot reformat it back to working order.

Solution: Sometimes reformatting the USB device (if applicable) can save you time and hassle of having to buy a new device. USB drives for example are one of the easiest and quickest USB devices to format. To format your USB storage devices, open up your “My Computer” and look for your USB device. If you can find your drive, right click, and select “Format”. The standard format for USB drives 2GB or under on a Windows machine is FAT 32, or NTFS for drives over 2GB. Next select start and confirm you wish to erase all data.

Once completed, make sure and use the “Safely remove hardware” option to ensure formatting has been completed.

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